Earning His Wings- Sean D.


Bella D.

Despite having dyslexia, Sean D. pursues his childhood dream of being a pilot.

Addison M. and Kaylee L.

A California driver’s license can’t be obtained until the age of sixteen, but what about a pilot’s license? You’d have to ask eighth-grader Sean D. who has been drawn to the idea of flying since he was a little kid. 

“(When I first took an interest in flying) I was six and we always went to air shows. I was so interested in how the pilots flew because the planes are so heavy. How does that get up in the air? I started asking people, ‘Can I see if I could have an instructor teach me how to fly one of the planes?’”

Soon after, Sean found his mentor, a family friend named Mike Pattison. Pattison is an airline pilot for a major airline based out of Los Angeles, California. He started flying out of Cable Airport in Upland, California when he was nine years old. “I think Sean must’ve been about a year old when I first met him. I’ve known their family for a really long time. I knew he was interested in flying, so I became his instructor to give him guidance and put him in the right direction,” Pattison said.

Sean sees a future in flying and aspires to join the Air Force as a fighter pilot when he’s older. However, Sean has dyslexia, a disorder that could prevent him from reaching his goal. Dyslexia is a learning disorder found in 5-10% of Americans. It affects the ability to spell, read, speak and write. 

“Most kids don’t have a great knowledge of dyslexia. He has some really, really great teachers who help him,” said Sean’s mom.  (Dyslexia) is actually more common than most people realize and it will not stop you from doing what you want to do.”

Dyslexia hasn’t stopped Sean from doing what he wants to do. Although he seems to be doing okay now, it could affect his aspirations to be in the Air Force. 

“It doesn’t affect my flying right now, but it will in my future if I don’t catch up. (The Air Force) requires a lot of knowledge on what’s going on in the plane and a lot of reading (and) figuring out what buttons to press if something goes wrong. If an insane word that I can’t read comes up, it wouldn’t be good.” 

Despite this roadblock, Sean is motivated by the people that support him.

“That’s really the secret to life, just following your heart and keep moving forward. To never give up. Sean’s dyslexia hasn’t seemed to affect his flying ability at all,” said Pattison.